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Adventures in Faith

SAVED OR LEFT GUESSING?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

When Paul wrote to the Galatians he stated,

For as many of you as were immersed into Christ have put on Christ.”  Galatians 3:26-27 (Emphases RH).

Paul told the Corinthians, “Now you are the body of Christ.”  1 Corinthians 12:27.

A Christian is one that God has added to the saved (Acts 2:46-47).  That added one is in the body of Jesus.  John tells us, “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7. One who is “in Christ” is totally washed clean in the blood of Jesus.  That blood continually cleanses him.  The question which is not settled by some is, what does “continually” cover?

Some believe when the Christian sins, the single act turns off the blood’s cleansing power to him.  In that moment the sin is committed, he is transfers out of the body of Jesus because sin cannot be found in Christ.  These actions are simultaneous because that one sinful act causes the guilty to be immediately lost.  Why?  Because he is no longer in the body of Christ.  He is immediately transferred to the kingdom of darkness.  He is lost.  He is a child of the devil.  Some disagree that he is no longer a child of God, but how can he be when he is no longer in the body of Christ?  Since the body of Christ is the same as the house or family of God, he is no longer part of that family (1 Timothy 3:15).  He now belongs to Satan.  He is his child.  However, this view makes this erring soul into a dual citizen of heaven and hell.  Being a “former” member of the saved, he has special privileges.  When or if he repents and asks God to forgive him, the Lord will allow that prayer to reinstate him!  Those who are in the kingdom of darkness, but not former members of the saved body must be immersed to be added.  With this special privilege, this individual can bypass that immersion and reenter through prayer!  He can be “re-immersed” into Christ without experiencing an immersion!  His former membership gives him that privilege.  This scenario is believed to be in your Bible in as much detail as I have given here.

When the sinner expresses the last syllable of his prayer, God turns the cleansing power of Jesus blood back on so this person’s past sin may be washed away.  Keep in mind that this “washing” is actually not a washing brought about through being immersed into Jesus’ death, but through a verbal symbolic one.  This “washing” permits him to reenter the saved.  He is now a child of God.  He is no longer in the kingdom of darkness; therefore he is no longer a child of the devil.  Notice, his prayer and pardon take place prior to readmittance.   Once cleansed of that past sin, Jesus’ blood is no longer needed in that person’s case until the next sin reaches that past tense stage!  However, when he sins again, the circular cycle repeats itself!  The blood works only when the person is in the kingdom of darkness!  It never is supplied for those who are in Christ Jesus.  It takes away past sins, never present ones!  In summing up this belief, it may be reduced to, “The saved sinner is safe in Jesus as long as he does not sin!”  If you sin, you are no longer in God’s safe place!

According to this teaching, when the sinner prays to get back into Christ, his past sin must be removed by Jesus blood before this happens.  This is the only time the blood of Jesus is active in the individual’s life.  After this, he is in good standing until his next sin.  This seems complicated but makes perfect sense to those who espouse it.  In this view, the blood of Jesus is limited to the remission of past sins only.  You must sin to activate it!  The removal happens prior to entering God’s holy place, which is the body of Christ.

Another view concerning the effectiveness of the blood of Jesus is the degree of its efficiency.   In that view, Jesus’ blood is good for 50% of one’s salvation.  When one hears the good news and is immersed, God adds 50% of salvation to the person’s account.  According to this view, God left us with a complete set of rules in the New Testament and the remaining 50% is our responsibility in saving ourselves through flawlessly keeping those rules.  Even then, our side of the chart doesn’t increase in a positive way unless we cross every “t” and dot every “i” without fault.  The only problem, reality tells us that “perfection is impossible.”  If we are responsible for 100% of the 50%, then 49.99% is a failure.  Whatever that gap is, small or large, wisdom informs us that we must have help filling it.  This view sees grace as the magic answer for a complete percentage!  Whatever percentage is needed to fill our gap, God’s grace will supposedly fill it at the judgment!  However, honesty questions the validity of that reasoning.  What IF God has a cut-off percentage and will not fill anyone’s gap if it goes over what He is responsible for?  This causes everyone to sweat out the results.  So, a person may follow the example of the “about three thousand,” and receive the percentage supplied by Jesus, but the personal part remains questionable (Acts 2:41).  The individual knows he was saved, but he doesn’t know if he will hear “Well done” when before Jesus!  The only sure way of knowing one is going to go to heaven is IF he is fortunate enough to die with a prayer on his lips!  If not, one will not know his eternal destiny until the judgment.  Some attempt to stack things in their favor by going beyond the average in doing good works.  You cannot buy your salvation with money nor works!  This view is just another system where the Christian believes he can buy his way into heaven.  Good works is our payment!  All it does is leave the person with frustration, uncertainty, discouragement, and doubt.  Some throw up their hands in surrender thinking “Why try?  I’m probably going to hell anyway!”

A third view is questioned by those who hold to the first two.  The person is immersed in Jesus’ blood which continually remits his sin (1 John 1:7).  According to verse 8, the person is a liar if he says he doesn’t sin.  Sin where?  In Christ!  He does not lose his citizenship because he remains in Jesus’ body.  Since Jesus blood remits sin continually, not sporadically, his sin is not counted!  Notice the Spirit’s teaching.  “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:8. Another translation renders it, “Happy is the man against whom no sin is recorded by the Lord.”  Isn’t this what continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus does?

How is it possible for a person’s sin to not be counted against him?  How is that possible?  It is done through continual cleansing in the blood of Jesus!  The person continues to retain his citizenship because of it.  God’s grace is a present gift that keeps on giving, making this salivation a 24/7 reality.  It shows God’s love in providing the way for us to be in fellowship with Him, even though we are not perfect.  This continual cleansing keeps God’s holiness from being compromised.  That is how powerful the blood of Jesus is!

Some disagree with this view because of their idea that we must earn our salvation through perfection.  However, what if God doesn’t kick us out?  What if we remain in Christ because God doesn’t count the sin against us.  What if the blood of Jesus removes those sins making it possible for us to continue in fellowship with Him?

The possibility of sinning is almost unlimited due to the flesh’s weakness.  Paul bemoaned this fact in Romans 7 in his efforts to keep the Law of Moses.  Notice, three times he stated that he did what was wrong because “flesh” took control (Romans 7:17, 20, 23).  He admits his failure in living a perfect life, asking who will save him from that body of death?  He couldn’t do it because he nor anyone else could keep the law without breaking it.  The only answer to our sin problem is Jesus who kept the Law without sin.  Jesus is the answer to Paul’s and our predicament (Verse 25).  Because of putting our faith in Jesus we can say with Paul, “there is no more condemnation” (Romans 8:1).  Did Paul conquer the flesh and never sin again as a follower of Jesus?  If that is what “no condemnation” means, Paul didn’t gain it.  Was Paul perfect in his obedience?  If he wasn’t, how could he remain in the body of Christ?  He admits to being imperfect.  Yet, Jesus’ blood kept him spotless and intact as a faithful member!  If a person cannot know he is saved until the judgment, then he cannot know whether he is a “true” Christian.  According to that theory, one sin bars him from the saved, returns him to the kingdom of darkness, and he isn’t restored until he repents and prays.  How can a person be a Christian when God has removed him from the saved?  In fact, if he is removed from the saved, he has been removed from the church each time he sins.  So, he is no longer a member of the church which Jesus is head of!

God’s love and grace isn’t identified as a windshield wiper faith.  Such a view has an individual trapped in the kingdom of darkness more than he spends time in the light of Jesus.  There is joy and peace in knowing where you stand with God.

We are washed in the blood of the Lamb.  That’s Good News!  Do you limit the power of that blood or rejoice in it?

FAME IS FLEETING!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Joey Chestnut won the men’s title in Nathan’s famous hot dog contest held each year in Brooklyn, New York. He consumed 64 hotdogs in 10 minutes. This was his eleventh win. Miki Suddo ate 37 hotdogs in 10 minutes to win the women’s title. This was her fifth win since 2014. I’ve never met either winner. Most folks have never heard of this contest. Perhaps both will be written into the Guinness World Records Book? Yet, fame is fleeting. Moses wrote,

“Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty. But even the best of these years are often emptiness and pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone.” Psalm 90:10

How would you train to be a winner in such a contest? Surely neither Joey nor Miki are light weights? His stomach had to be large enough to handle 64 hotdogs in 10 minutes. Her stomach must be capable of holding 37! Last year Joey won by eating 74 hotdogs. My mother used to tell me that I needed to chew my food at least 25 times or I would have stomach problems the rest of my life! Perhaps Joey and Miki’s mother gave them no such instruction!

Fame means recognition. Some desire that recognition even if it is gained in the wrong way. In the past few years several students have walked into their schools shooting teachers and students to gain notoriety. Notoriety means recognition. Yet one does not need to take innocent life to gain it. We usually think of famous people being those who have done something outstanding that helps society. Yet, fame is fleeting.

Recently a TV personality asked university students the name of our first president. I believe Lincoln was as close as anyone got. Yet, all those presidents from Washington to Lincoln were famous. Being remembered for doing the right thing is the best fame anyone can have! In fact, a person’s action can be remembered even though the person’s name is not given.

Jesus stated,

“Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:10-13

Jesus told the apostles that this woman’s act would be remember wherever the gospel was preached. It is told even though the apostles were upset and spoke out against what she did. If it had not been for Andrew, we would not know about the apostles Peter. If Peter had never been contacted by his brother, the New Testament would be shy of two books.

Jeremiah preached for about 50 years, but very few heeded his words. Yet, he is known today as one of the major prophets of Israel.

Do you want to be remembered? To gain enduring fame, live for the eternal!

“Then those who feared and loved the Lord spoke often of him to each other. And he had a Book of Remembrance drawn up in which he recorded the names of those who feared him and loved to think about him.” Malachi 3:16

“Nothing evil will be permitted in it—no one immoral or dishonest—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:27

HE LOVES YOU!

Monday, July 30, 2018

I have heard mothers say, “I love all my children, but ____ is my favorite.”  I was mom’s first born.  I was followed by two sisters, a brother, and a third sister.  For some reason I was mom’s favorite and it upset me when she compared my brother to me, with him coming up on the short end.  Whatever I had was better than what my brother did.  I didn’t think mom was fair in making those comparisons.  I felt sorry him.  Jerry was a good husband, father, grandfather, and brother.  He was also a good son!

Oh, mom chided me for different things when I was younger.  “Stand up straight.  Do you want to go through life as a hunchback?”  “You don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”  “You are so skinny that if a puff of wind came up, it would blow you away.”  Yet, she never used one of the other siblings to make me appear insufficient or a failure.  Because of that, I don’t remember trying to impress her to get her attention or favor over the others.  Yet, the two middle ones did.  Sometimes a son or daughter will attempt to impress their father.  My father abandoned us when I was eight and he wasn’t around for us to impress if we had wanted to.  But some children work hard at getting their dad to love them.  One of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard was performed by Reba McIntire, “The Greatest Man I Never Knew” written by Richard Leigh and Layng Martine, Jr. In 1992.  It falls into a category I’m familiar with!

The greatest man I never knew

Lived just down the hall

And every day we said hello

But never touched at all

He was in his paper

I was in my room

How was I to know he thought I hung the moon

 

The greatest man I never knew

Came home late every night

He never had too much to say

Too much was on his mind

I never really knew him

And now it seems so sad

Everything he gave to us took all he had

 

Then the days turned into years

And the memories to black and white

He grew cold like an old winter wind

Blowing across my life

 

The greatest words I never heard

I guess I’ll never hear

The man I thought could never die

Has been dead almost a year

He was good at business

But there was business left to do

He never said he loved me

Guess he thought I knew.

What I regretted most while growing up, was not having a dad to show me how a man was supposed to be a father.  When dads walk away and never return, children think it must be their fault.  I credit O’Neal Horney being more like a father to me than my dad every was.  O’Neal came into our lives during my senior year in high school.  I went off to college after graduating, but my year with him was rewarding.  The marriage didn’t survive, and I never had the opportunity to tell him, “Thank you” or “I love you.”

Men who are fathers aren’t perfect.  Not everyone is a Dr. Spock!  Perhaps they shouldn’t be.  I know of one Father that always sets the right example and give us His love without reservation.  He desires our fellowship and proved it by sending His Son to do for us what we could not do for ourselves.  Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins.  He gave us the way, the truth, and the life to have that relationship.  That information is called the Good News or Gospel.

If you haven’t heard it, I hope you will.

IT DOESN’T SAY!

Thursday, July 26,2018

Men like sports.  Some women do.  Men are very competitive.  Most have a burning desire to win.  That competitive spirit is older than Methuselah.  It goes all the way back to Genesis 4 when one brother killed another (Genesis 4:2-8).  Eliminating the competition didn’t help the survivor win any prizes.  But we see human nature being revealed!

Men being what they are, one wonders if there was a competitive spirit among the apostles?  Andrew’s outstanding deed was telling his brother about the Messiah.  When compared to Simon Peter, Andrew’s accomplishments come up short.  Peter wrote two of the New Testament letters.  Andrew wrote none.  Right or wrong, Peter was always answering or challenging Jesus.  Andrew did not.  Jesus said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”  Jesus challenged Peter to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).  Similar responses were never addressed to Andrew.  Did he feel slighted?  Was he ever burdened with a jealous streak? Inspiration doesn’t say.

Peter denied Jesus, Paul did not.  Paul wrote thirteen of the New Testament letters.  Peter only wrote two.  Peter refused to obey the Lord’s command three times, Paul did not.  Peter denied Jesus.  Paul did not.  Luke writes some about Peter’s activities, but most of the book of Acts is about Paul.  Paul got in Peter’s face to correct him, but Peter never had to correct Paul.  Did a competitive spirit ever find lodging in Peter’s thinking?  Holy writ doesn’t say.

There are a lot of blank spaces in scripture where information is lacking.  For example, in Acts 16:22, Paul and Silas had their clothes torn from their bodies before being beaten.  Were they allowed to put on shreds of clothing afterwards?  If not, they met the jailer’s wife in their Fruit of the Looms?  Mel Gibson illustrated how terrible crucifixion was in his 2004 movie, The Passion of the Christ.  Yet, the viewing public did not see the complete humiliation the crucified suffered.  That individual was nailed to the cross naked.  Did they do that to Jesus?  Scripture doesn’t reveal that information.

There are things written in our Bible that reveal human nature in motion, but not followed in detail.  We do not know the extent of that behavior in those who are mentioned, but it could have followed a mutual course revealed in others.  We may speculate about this nature being acted out fully, although it is not mentioned per se.  For example, what was Peter’s reaction when Paul corrected him?  We are not told.  What is the usual reaction when someone gets in your face to “set you straight”?  Did he repent right away?  We are not told.  How adamant was Peter when God told him to “kill and eat” (Acts 10:13)?  He did refuse, didn’t he?  Was his refusal just a meek whisper?  Peter didn’t mind speaking up even when wrong (Matthew 26:33-35).  He probably never thought he would be guilty of cursing and swearing to prove no relationship with Jesus (Matthew 26:74-75).  He did though!  We see human nature rising to the surface.  As a side note, Peter’s denial could not be the unpardonable sin because he was forgiven!

Jesus called twelve men to be his disciples.  They would be sent out to teach his good news.  One of his apostles would have been a good accountant if not for his dishonesty (John 12:3-6).  He returned his “blood” money, repented of betraying Jesus and admitted his wrongdoing.  Then, in remorse, he hung himself.  Didn’t he know forgiveness was possible?  Some Christians today probably come close to manifesting Judas’ thought pattern.  They see their imperfections, wave their white flag, and settle for hopelessness.  Spiritual suicide is their reward.  It is the flesh’s victory over the spirit!

 Jesus’ teaching on turning “the other cheek” must have hit Matthew and Simon the zealot hard.  In modern application, Matthew was a Trump type supporter and Simon hated everything Matthew stood for!  Those two entered their discipleship without a good word for the other.  Both were a thorn in the flesh of the other!  “Forgiveness” was a foreign subject neither wished to discuss.  How long did it take for their hatred and mistrust to develop into love and appreciation?  Didn’t they go through that turmoil?  The Bible doesn’t say.

When Peter returned to Jerusalem from visiting in a Gentile’s home, he was questioned by negative thinking members (Acts 11:1-3).  Surely Peter knew from his own experience that others were not going to appreciate that visit?  These individuals are identified as “those of the circumcision.”  Paul and Barnabas later ran into these brethren, who Luke reveals as “the sect of the Pharisees who had believed” (Acts 15:5).  These are the same believers who put fear in Peter, and he stopped fellowshipping Gentile Christians (Galatians 2:11-15).  Didn’t he remember what he told Cornelius (Acts 10:34-35)?  Apparently, this sect was in the church from Acts 2 until the destruction of Jerusalem.  Even Jesus’ brother seems to be a party to it (Galatians 2:12).  Yet, Luke nor anyone else spends time explaining why the church was “tolerant” of this party or sect.  Paul corrected the Corinthian brethren over their division into four named parties (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  Scripture doesn’t answer this question.

Human nature!  It is good and bad.  It can be helpful or hindering.  It may build yet sink into brokenness.  Although scripture doesn’t always reveal the full extent of that nature, we can see some of it in those who wrote the 27 books and some those writers dealt with.  Application is our responsibility.  Do the scriptures speak to correctly direct our human nature?

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.   All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:15-17

RESCUE IS AVAILABLE!

Monday, July 23, 2018

During the Olympics the first, second, and third winners are honored with the primary one standing in the middle just a little higher than the other two.  When I think of the apostle Paul, I think of Jesus being in the middle, but Paul to his right and a little higher than the one standing on the left.  Paul authored thirteen of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament.  Luke introduces us to Saul of Taurus in Acts 7:58. Except for Acts 10:1 through 11:25, Paul fills the rest of Luke’s second book.

Paul was a Pharisee in belief and teaching.  His teacher was Gamaliel, a renown and respected Pharisee (Acts 22:3).  Paul told the Philippian church that if he wanted to brag, he could because he was “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Philippians 3:5-6.  When he was converted, that zeal did not diminish!

Paul stood up to saints who were more Pharisee than Christian, demanding that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:1, 6).  When that view infected Peter, he stopped fellowshipping Gentile saints and Paul got in his face (Galatians 2:11-15).  In spite of negative talk against him, Paul wrote and planned to visit the brethren in Corinth to correct their problems (1 Corinthians 4:17-21; 9:1-2).  He admitted that some of the negative things said about him might be true (1 & 2 Corinthians).  He was concerned that the Corinthians would not heed his corrections.  Yet, Paul was a leader and endured much for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:24-27).  He recognized his limitations.  He realized his prayers for his own comfort would not be realized since he needed the lesson for his own good (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).  Paul implied that he had a problem with covetousness (Romans 7:8-10).  He included himself in the “all” of Romans 3:10, 23.  Although I may put him on a pedestal slightly lower than the one Jesus is on, Paul was not perfect.  Paul recognized he needed help.  Hopefully, we will share in his understanding!

Paul was a lot better at keeping God’s commands than most of us could.  If his parents wanted him to marry, he never complied, feeling his work for the Lord was more pressing.  He did not have a stipulated salary with benefits.  A modern retirement program was unknown to him.  He supported himself when needed.  He did not quit when things went South (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).  When beaten and jailed, he sang praises to God rather than complain about his wounds.  He used the word “woe” once, but not because he felt sorry for himself (1 Corinthians 9:16).  He told followers of Jesus, “imitate me, as I do Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Yet in all this he admitted he was chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:13-15).  Paul was a sinner because he was not perfect.  He needed Jesus, just as we do.

Our problems were also Paul’s!  He knew right from wrong and desired to do what was right.  Yet, he didn’t!  He hated doing what was wrong but ended up doing it.  This was a perplexing problem to him.  The harder he attempted to keep the Law of God perfectly, the more failure he experienced.

Paul informed the Philippians, “concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”  “Blameless” did not mean he kept the Law without breaking it.  That was an impossibility that God wanted him and others to learn.  It is a lesson which needs to be understood today!  Paul wanted to be perfect, but his “want” never became his “was.”  Something was present within Paul that continues today.  The King James Version refers to it as “the flesh” (Matthew 26:41; Romans 6:19; 7:5, 25; 8:1, 3).  The NIV translates it as “the sinful nature.”  Paul blames his surrender to this condition three times in Romans 7:17, 20, & 23.  In this helpless condition he cries out, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (v.24).  If the one whom I have put on a pedestal could not live a perfect life, why do I think I can?

Under the Law of Moses, this haunting question could not be answered.  But, in Saul of Tarsus’ life, it was!  Paul answers this painful question with, “Thank God!  It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (v.25).  Paul, you and I share the same nature.  In our mind we desire to serve God.  Yet, “the flesh” or “sinful nature” keeps us from owning that perfection.  How does Jesus solve that “flesh” or “sinful nature”?  His blood negates the sin (1 John 1:7-10).   His blood does not license us to sin, but it cleanses us, so we are not sinners.  Paul expressed it this way, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).   Let that sink in and you will rejoice!

Imitate Paul!  Follow Jesus into “no condemnation”!

OUR GARDEN?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Some people don’t believe in Satan.  Because he is the master of deception he dupes people in that fashion.  Satan uses their wisdom to blind them.  Remember the scene in the Garden and Satan’s conversation with Eve?

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5

The first thing Eve should have noticed was that speaking reptile!  Perhaps there was communication with all living beings then?  I know that I’m not believing a “serpent” even if he told me, “I won’t bite”!  If “reptile” means “snake,” I was raised in Oklahoma where a good one was a dead one.  Upon spotting a snake my grandmother’s philosophy was, “Grab the hoe and kill it!”  Very sound advice, although there are laws today against such actions.

Notice the devil’s first words.  No courteous “Hello, how are you.”  Straight to the point with a statement questioning God’s decision, mixed with a whopper lie.  If questioned about his lying inferences, Satan would probably have shrugged it off with a sarcastic reply and a smug look.  That is still being practiced today!  Satan was setting Eve up for a fall.  Notice, silent Adam is there, but not present!

Poor Eve, her reply is pathetic.  She doesn’t have her facts straight.  When you’re mesmerized, whatever “smarts” you have, disappears.  Notice how quick Satan jumps on Eve’s use of the word “die.”  His response is, “You won’t die!  God knows that your eyes will be opened . . . and you will be like God.”  Wow!  One bite and you are promoted to God’s level!  What an opportunity to be the mother of future generations that will follow in her footsteps!  What a legacy!

Satan convinces us, in different ways, that he knows God better than we do.  He is the world’s best at introducing a falsehood and it being accepted as truth.  That continues to be practiced today.  Once done, all he needs to do is sit back and watch us run with it.  Mankind is good at believing things from the devil are original thoughts of wisdom which we have developed.  Some accept those ideas as being from god.  They are.  Not Yahweh God, but the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)!

So often we are more like mother Eve and papa Adam than we think!  We live in our own garden!

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  1 John 4:1

MISINTERPRETATION CAN PRODUCE HYPOCRISY!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Some would refer to them as “compassionate hearts.”  One can appreciate their honest and sincere concerns for others and a desire to do what is right.  Yet, the good they wish to do is misplaced and sometimes based upon poor interpretation of scripture.

One of the leading stories in the news is on illegal immigrants.  Those who wish to allow them into the USA, void of all “vetting,” feel those who disagree are unchristian in their attitude.  Some have gone as far as demanding that ICE be disbanded, and all illegals allowed in and their needs supplied.  They believe “this is the Christian thing to do”!  In their minds, to refuse this care reveals “an unchristian spirit.”

To justify this generosity, the fact that these immigrants are breaking the law, is dismissed.  This law breaking is justified by some with scripture to prove that our generosity trumps the law!!  Acts 5:29 is cited, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  The apostles were not defending illegal immigration, only their right to preach the gospel.  This mass of illegals is not entering the USA to preach the gospel.  Among them are gang members who are vicious in their actions.  There are also terrorists who wish to murder the very individuals who wish to aid them.  These terrorists consider their benefactors to be pagan heathen.  A number of those illegals are demanding the same rights which legal immigrants worked hard to receive.  In fact, some illegals are demanding much, much more.  They believe they have a right to receive what our veterans and the poor cannot receive!

It is interesting that those Christians who dismiss the term “illegal” want the US government to provide the immigrants with free housing, medical services, schooling, transportation, food stamps, and other desires.  They believe our government “owes” those illegals the care which cost the USA billions of dollars each year.

Excerpts of scripture are quoted to justify this invasion and expense that burdens the US government.  Part of Luke 6:30 is quoted, “Give to everyone who asks of you.”  Jesus speech in Matthew 25:35-36, 40, 45 is used to show Christians must supply the needs of all these illegal immigrants.  We are told, “It is the Christian thing to do”!

The problem in using those and other passages is that the supplier being referred to is not the government, but the individual follower of Christ!  This biblical fact is ignored!  The ones being judged in Matthew 25 are individual believers, not the government.  It is hypocritical to substitute the responsibilities given to individual Christians and place it on the government’s pocketbook!  God does not hold the government accountable in these passages!  Yet, some Christians who feel the government is being “unchristian” in refusing to shell out billions of dollars in care, are pointing an accusing finger in the wrong direction!  At the judgment, Jesus will not ask the US government the questions of Matthew 25.  The questions will be directed at those who mistakenly claim the responsibility of that passage is directed to the US government!

How many illegal immigrant families have you as a Christian taken into your home to feed, clothe, school, and supply them with medical care?  None?  If so, won’t you hear Jesus say, “Depart” rather than “Come” (Matthew 25:34, 41)?  Isn’t it hypocritical to believe the US government is responsible for what Jesus puts on your shoulders, rather than in the government’s lap?  After all, the slogan, “It is the Christian thing to do” puts the responsibility upon the individual Christian, not the US government!  Again, this substitution of government paying the bill rather than the individual Christian, makes the disciple of Christ guilty of rewriting God’s word (Matthew 15:9)!  Such individuals are producing another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  It keeps the Christian’s pocketbook intact while emptying Uncle Sam’s!

Misinterpretation can produce hypocrisy!  If those saints desire to be consistent, who wish to open Uncle Sam’s pocket to do “the Christian thing,” they must be required to document their claim with scripture.  Jesus fed 9,000 people, not Pilate or Rome!  Isn’t that the Christian thing to do?  Christians doing it?  Reaching deep into the Christian’s purse will reveal who is or is not practicing what is being preached!  Why should the protesting Christian expect others to do what he refuses to practice himself?  Isn’t that hypocritical?

What if five, ten or fifty families show up on your doorstep?  What is the Christian thing to do?  What if it is a thousand families?  If you turn away just one, wouldn’t that reveal an unchristian spirit?  Did Jesus say the following or not?

For I was hungry, and the government fed me. I was thirsty, and the government gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and the government invited me into government housing.  I was naked, and the government gave me clothing. I was sick, and the government cared for me. I was in prison, and the government visited me.’  Then these government officials will reply, ‘Lord, when did we the government ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did the government ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when the government did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, the government was doing it to me!’”  Book, chapter, and verse?

When the Christian takes himself out of Matthew 25:35-40 and substitutes the government, he takes that passage out of its context and steps on dangerous ground!

Who made government responsible for what Jesus commanded the Christian to do?  God didn’t.

CLEANSES US FROM ALL SINS

Thursday, July 12, 2018

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7 (NKJV)

Have you ever been snorkel swimming in a crystal-clear river or lake?  You are surrounded by water on all sides.  When one surrenders to the teachings of God’s word and is immersed into Jesus, God adds that person to the saved (Acts 2:42, 47).  One is in the body of Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  He is “in the light,” has “fellowship” with others who are saved, and “the blood of Jesus . . . cleanses” him “from all sins.”  That blood surrounds him as water does a diver!

Is that “in Christ” individual perfect because he never sins?  John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (V.8).   John informs us that we do sin “in Christ.”  Because we do, we need to “confess our sins.”  Are we still “in Christ” when that confessing becomes necessary?  Some say, “Yes,” while others firmly say “No.”

Allow me to return to that snorkeling adventure where you are surrounded by water.  When one is in the body of Jesus, he is surrounded by Jesus’ saving blood just as the swimmer is surrounded by water.  Some seem to overlook that important detail!

John stated, “If we walk in the light.”  When is a person “in the light”?  When God adds him to the saved!  That individual was a lost sinner.  Now he is a saved one.  He lies to himself, others, and God if he claims that as a Christian, he does not sin.  Those sins mentioned by John are committed by one who is “in the light.”  Yet, despite our imperfections, that cleansing blood that embraces us continually removes those sins.  That’s why the saved sinner needs to remain “in the light.”  He remains where he is continually cleansed.  Some chose to not remain (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).  We are not in that group (Hebrews 10:39).  Therefore, I am not referring to one who chooses to leave the light with no desire to return.  I am referring to that group that is imperfect but relies upon Jesus sacrificial blood to keep them in fellowship with the Father!  Our perfection is ingrained in Jesus and what he did for us at the cross!

“In Christ” we have fellowship with other saved sinners.  We rejoice together in the fact that Jesus’ blood keeps us cleansed.  God’s grace has provided this cleansing place for all sinners who will come to Jesus.  This is not a license to sin but is God’s cleansing power to keep us in fellowship with one another and with Him (Romans 6:1-23)!  Without that cleansing, we would no longer be saved.

Some believe that their imperfections are mightier than Jesus’ blood.  They believe that with each act of sin, mental or physical, one is cast outside the body of Jesus and returned to the kingdom of darkness!  Hell holds the lost sinner captive until he repents and asks God for His forgiveness.  He remains in the kingdom of darkness until the very last syllable of confession exits his mouth.  Once the sinner’s prayer is completed, he is returned to the saved until the next slip up!  Sin being what it is, and flesh being as weak as it is, the salvation of this sinner is always in question!  With each new failure in perfection, the individual is rewarded with hopelessness and fear.  If he is to be assured of salvation, his actions must be quicker than that speeding bullet which Superman outruns!

John’s message dispels that lack of faith.  “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  The blood of Jesus surrounds us like that swimmer’s water.  If the swimmer makes a mistake, he is still surrounded by water.  Jesus’ blood not only keeps us cleansed but keeps us from losing our salvation in Christ Jesus.

Are you bathing in Jesus’ blood?

WORSHIP IN HEAVEN?

Monday, July 9, 2018

People have all kinds of ideas about heaven.  What will it be like?  Will we float around on eternal clouds pulling on the strings of our literal harps?  Will we all wear white robes, have halos, and be barefooted?  Will we see loved ones who were believers, but not remember those who weren’t?  Will it be a big homecoming event?  Will we walk and talk with the apostles and Jesus, receiving answers to all our questions?  Will we have literal mansions to reside in?  Will it be a new Garden of Eden for us to work and live in and this time happiness will keep us from disobedience?  Will it be an everlasting, continuous worship service where we sing non-stop praises to Yahweh?

Would you be shocked if the description of heaven is only symbolic?  The streets of gold may be described in physical terms, but the spiritual reality may present that metal as rust in comparison.  Will we make our worship in heaven a mirror of our Sunday assemblies to be practiced throughout eternity?  If so, what will that heavenly worship look like?

If our worship in heaven is exactly like what we do on Sunday morning, there would be no Cracker Barrel to beat the Baptist to!  Worship would never end!  It would make our impatience with the preacher’s “and in closing” promise look heavenly!  If our worship was one where we were on our feet, we would be in an eternal standing mode.  If it was one where we remained seated, let us hope that bed sores don’t migrate to heaven!  Fidgeting would be out of the question since discomfort would be no more!   For the very young, as well as those in advanced age, such a condition is incomprehensible.  Bathroom breaks would no longer be needed!

Will there be any emotions displayed in heaven?  Would “joy” or “rejoicing” be a foreign activity?  Would that emotion be exhibited with shouting, clapping, or other human movements?  Or, would that excitement be strictly stifled because it mirrors activities we believe are unscriptural in our earthly worship?  Would we sit or stand without visible movement beyond what it takes to get up or sit down?  Would we be shocked that the harps mentioned in the book of Revelation were figurative and our voices were all that God desired?  Would we wish we weren’t there if the harps were literal?  Would we be shocked if the adoration for Yahweh was exuberant and exciting rather than repressed because such would be “too emotional”?  Would the host of heaven express their love and joy to God in whispers to display their reverence void of all such emotions?

Inspiration depicts our relationship with Jesus as a marriage (Romans 7:4; Revelation 21:2).  What were marriage ceremonies like in first century Judaism?  Was there an absence of emotionalism?  When Jesus and the apostles observed the Passover meal, was reverence revealed as silence?  What about that moment when he introduced the Lord’s supper from the Passover bread and wine?  Was it without emotions?  Was joy repressed?  Was it an activity of silence?  Is there any difference in the way Jesus introduced and partook of it with the apostles and our habitual way of doing so today?  How would we work foot washing into our activities since it was part of Jesus’ assembly?  Perhaps it would not be needed since dirt under foot or from the mouth would be no more!

When the Philippian saints received Paul’s letter, what were their thoughts when they read “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)?  Was he talking about rejoicing” before the opening prayer or wait to do so after the closing one?  How was reverence expressed by the host in the presence of Yahweh in Revelation 4:8-11?  Was it stoic?  When the Lamb appeared, how was their reverence expressed (Revelation 5:1-14)?  Was it without emotions?  Was the atmosphere subdued and without conversation?

Even if these Revelation passages contain symbolism, do we see any correlation between that worship and what we call worship today?  The only time the word “worship” is used in God’s word with an assembly, it isn’t the worship we describe as being “in spirit and in truth.”  In fact, most would be horrified if such worship took place in our assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).  Would our modern worship fall under the heading of “Silence is prohibitive” because it isn’t described as we phrase it?  Would the glories of heaven shock our sight when we behold it for the first time?  Will we rejoice?  If so, how will that rejoicing translate into actions?  Will we have tears of joy, or shouts of rejoicing?  Will anyone be silent and explain that silence as the only emotion lawful to display?

One of the older songs, “No Tears in Heaven,” has the following lyrics,

No tears in heaven, no sorrows given.

All will be glory in that land;

There’ll be no sadness, all will be gladness,

When we shall join that happy band (Emphasis mine, RH).

What will heaven be like?  How will “gladness” be displayed?  What will “that happy band” look like?  Will our visions of heaven’s activities be shocking or satisfying?  Is our understanding and practice of “worship” what we can expect in heaven?

Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on.  But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.(1 John 3:2-3).

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